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Iran blacklists EU, UK officials as it ups armed support for Russia

Iran's tit-for-tat measure marked the latest episode in its tensions with Western adversaries and coincided with fresh allegations of its military assistance to Russia in the war against Ukraine. 
Belgian Manon Vandecasteele sits blindfolded in a cell during a protest action for her uncle Olivier Vandecasteele, who is imprisoned in Iran, on the Grand-Place in Tournai on April 22, 2023. - Belgium on April 18, 2023 said it had formally asked Iran to repatriate jailed aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele from Tehran, after a disputed prisoner exchange treaty entered into force. Iran arrested Vandecasteele, 42, in February 2022 and sentenced him to 40 years for spying, in a move condemned as "hostage diploma

TEHRAN — Iran said it blacklisted nearly 20 individuals and entities in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) after the two levied new packages of sanctions on the Islamic Republic on Monday.  

In a statement published on its website late on Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry said those targeted in its list were supporting "terrorist groups" and had instigated "violence against the Iranian people." They were also accused of involvement in "economic terrorism" against Iran, a term Tehran uses in reference to financial sanctions and international banking restrictions as punitive measures mostly for its nuclear program and human rights violations.  

Iran's list covers a diverse range of EU and UK individuals, from former and sitting parliamentarians to senior management of arms companies and think tank leaders. 

Included among the EU individuals are French member of the European Parliament Ilana Cicurel and her Spanish colleague Antonio Lopez Isturiz White. The CEO of the Munich-based Kraus-Maffei Wegman Military Industries, Frank Haun has also been targeted.

In the UK section, the CEO of the Security Industry Authority, Michelle Russel, and Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Benjamin John Key have been mentioned, next to such entities as the UK National Protective Security Authority.

The list was released only hours after the EU and the UK targeted military commanders within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over their roles in the deadly repression against Iranian protesters in the unrest that was triggered by Mahsa Amini's death in police custody back in September.

At least 530 Iranians, among them 70 minors, have been killed in the state crackdown, according to the expatriate advocacy group Human Rights Activists News Agency.  

Covered in the EU sanctions was also the IRGC's Cooperative Foundation, an influential economic conglomerate plagued by allegations of prevalent corruption, one which serves as a lifeline for the IRGC's handling of protests at home and missions abroad through its overseas branch known as the Quds Force. 

The EU and the UK have both in recent months slapped Tehran with slews of sanctions in connection with its heavy-handed response to the uprising as well as its involvement in Russia's war on Ukraine, most notably through drone deliveries to Moscow

More Iranian support for Russia

On the same day the sanctions were traded, the spotlight was once again turned on Iran's aid to Russia. A Wall Street Journal report pointed at the shipment of significant cargoes of Iranian artillery shells, around a million of them, and other ammunition into Russia across the Caspian Sea over the past six months. Those cargoes, the report said, were to "resupply troops fighting in Ukraine."  

Iran has yet to address the new allegations, but it has dismissed previous reports of drone supplies to Moscow, claiming that it seeks a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine war.  

Yet finding Moscow as one of the few remaining allies at a time of international isolation, Tehran has not denied military cooperation with the northern neighbor.  

As recently as Monday, Brig. Gen. Afshin Khajefard, director of the Aviation Industry Organization of the Iranian Army, declared that the Russian Federation had sought Tehran's advice on maintaining its air fleet.  

Cited by the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News, the commander did not elaborate on how Iran responded to the inquiry, which was made last year at the very outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

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